By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – Gov. Chris Sununu told reporters he supports the current Parental Bill of Rights and laid out his reasons for suddenly supporting legal cannabis sales saying it is likely an issue for next year.
Sununu also said he is “shockingly surprised” at how easy it would be for him to raise money if he chooses to run for president.
Sununu met with reporters Wednesday following the Executive Council meeting.
The three-term Republican governor noted he is considered the “third most popular governor in the nation,” but he has not decided whether or not to throw his hat into an increasingly large pool of Republican candidates for president.
He said his biggest concern about running was not about getting enough money but his concern for his present job.
“The state comes first,” Sununu said.
He explained comments he made on MSNBC this past weekend about guns in schools following Democratic Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington’s questions at the council meeting about arming teachers in schools.
Sununu said he was not sure what she was talking about but during the MSNBC interview, he was asked about school violence and said he supports the concept of a School Resource Officer in every school.
This week a number of major bills will be coming up for a vote in the House of Representatives and one is related to the so-called Parental Bill of Rights. Opponents say it targets the most vulnerable children in schools who are exploring their sexual identity. The bill would require teachers to tell parents if they ask about whether their child is involved with various groups or how they identify sexually.
Sununu said he has not seen amendments that may or may not be added to that bill but generally supports the existing bill.
He also explained his decision to support a pathway forward for legalized adult marijuana sales based on the fact that the state is seeing more polydrugs lacing marijuana on the black market. He cited the need to protect citizens with a system the state can uniquely create using the Liquor Commission which would allow for more limited marketing and more preventative opportunities to keep everyone safe.
He said he is “not full-blown loving the idea” but at some point, he said, legalization is inevitable and he would prefer to design a system that ensures safety.
Asked if he thought it might come to his desk this spring, he said, “I would imagine it would come up next year” and said he has spoken with Sen. Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, Senate president, who opposes any legalization measure for cannabis.
Sununu was asked about care for the elderly, disabled, and veterans after it was revealed at the Executive Council meeting that there were more than 60 veterans waiting for beds for lack of nursing help at the New Hampshire Veterans Home.
He said it was part of a national problem of a lack of nursing staff.
Sununu called the revelation not surprising but he said he sees a better future with more efforts being taken to reduce red tape, recruit at the high school level, and noted a statistic that New Hampshire is the second most popular place for people in their 20s to move.
He said he is generally supportive of efforts to raise Medicaid rates for programs like Choices for Independence which provide in-home care for seniors and the disabled and who say they have not seen a raise in 12 years.
He noted the House is looking very favorably upon that in their budget version and he would be supportive of such raises going forward.